Posted by: Drew | May 23, 2007

Learning lessons the hard way

In my head, this post has many alternate titles. My favorite is something like this, “Principles in Hydration: why weekends are for taking off of work but not for ignoring your body’s needs.” But that just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the same way, so I kept it simple.

So what’s this all about? Well, I’ve recently (last six months or so) become primarily a water drinker. There will be the occasional soda or beer, and of course the requisite cup of coffee or two in the morning. But mostly… water. I’ve been very good at work (any excuse to leave my desk, right?) about keeping my bottle filled. And on weeknights, I’ve also remembered to keep in the habit. It’s the weekends that give me troubles. For whatever reason, my “water fitness” goes out the window from Saturday morning until Monday. Some weekends, I’ll catch myself on Sunday before it gets too late. But others, I drag into Monday desperate for re-hydration.

This past Friday, I left work fully prepared to stay properly hydrated. I knew that I would be waking up early on Saturday to head downtown to run in the Race for the Cure. Saturday, I took too many snoozes, and didn’t feel like drinking water. Stubborn, but true. So I didn’t. I ran the race, took one of the free bottles of water at the finish line, and drank that. Then for the rest of the day I proceeded to drink: two cups of coffee, a gigantic diet soda, a glass of Kool-Aid, and only one glass of water.

The next day, I decided to go out and do my first “long” run. I planned to run to my mom’s house (2.65 miles), take a quick water break, and run back home. (All this on one measly pastry for breakfast and NO water whatsoever.) Lately, I have not been running on consecutive days to allow plenty of time for recovery. After the race on Saturday, my legs felt great. They felt just as good on Sunday, so I decided “to heck with my rules, I’m going!”

If I had known the fates that awaited my left leg, I would have gone back to bed.

I headed out at what I felt was somewhere between a 9:00-10:00 per mile pace. I felt a little discomfort in my left posterior tibialis at about the half mile mark, but kept running. The pain went away as the muscles warmed up. Oh, I forgot to mention the weather. When I was getting dressed, it was about 62 and cloudy. Perfect for running. Of course as soon as I stepped outside to pound the concrete the clouds broke to a sky full of blue and a temperature of about 75.

I know what you’re thinking: Drew took three hours to get dressed. Not true! It was like I was running in an oven that all of a sudden got turned on (maybe not quite “High”, but we’ll say it went from simmer to medium). True story!

So you can imagine what effect the weather had on my state of hydration. Lots of sweating equals fluid loss. I took in about 4 oz at mom’s before heading back (hey, I didn’t want to slosh around, and I’m stubborn… let’s move on).

About a half mile into the return trip, it happened. Someone (the invisible man?) stuck a fork into the outside of my left knee every time it hit the ground. It started out as a simple poke… poke… poke. But by the time I was halfway back home, the fork was firmly planted in my knee and every step was like a little hammer tap on the end. Anyone with an ounce of common sense (you’ll quickly realize where I fit on the spectrum) would have slowed very quickly to a walk and limped home. Me? I ran to my predetermined finish line. 52:26… not bad!

I had about a 3/4 mile cool down walk home, iced up for twenty minutes, and then proceeded to lay on the couch for most of the rest of the day. What about water, you ask? I had (maybe) a half glass that night. I can’t honestly say why, I just didn’t drink that much. As the night progressed, my knee stiffened up pretty good and was quite sore. The next morning, same stiffness and soreness.

With lunch, I started my normal weekday water routine. By 3:00 PM, I’d had about 60 oz of water, and interestingly enough, my knee pain was completely gone. I’m reluctant to believe that re-hydrating my body had such an effect (or conversely, that the dehydration had such a negative effect on my Sunday run), but I can’t see any other logical explanation.

Obviously, I took Monday off from any running. I did mow the lawn, but even that felt pretty darn good. Yesterday, I was going to run in the evening, but time got away from me and I put it off until this morning. Today, I got up slightly earlier than usual and went out for a brief 1.8 mile jog. 10:06 pace, so it was nice and easy. After the first half mile, my muscles loosened up and the slight stiffness from rolling out of bed to run was gone. It felt good, and I know I need to do this more often.

The last two days, I’ve been back on my water regiment. Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson and will treat this weekend a little differently than the last.



  1. Emily: (Intercom) Andy?
    Andy: Yes.
    Emily: Can you get the phones so I can potty?
    Andy: Um…yes? You can just say “Andy get the phone.”

    THAT is what happens when you hydrate! 64 ounces a day!

  2. I comletely agree. The path I’ve worn from my desk to the restroom will soon be in need of recarpeting.

    It’s tough being sensible.

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